Oh, this is so silly. It’s a paper titled A Statistical Estimation of the Occurrence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy. All it is is an exercise in modeling the hypothetical distribution of hypothetical intelligent life in the galaxy, taking into account the age distribution of stars.
In the field of Astrobiology, the precise location, prevalence and age of potential
extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) have not been explicitly explored. Here, we address these
inquiries using an empirical galactic simulation model to analyze the spatial-temporal variations
and the prevalence of potential ETI within the Galaxy. This model estimates the occurrence of ETI,
providing guidance on where to look for intelligent life in the Search for ETI (SETI) with a set of
criteria, including well-established astrophysical properties of the Milky Way. Further, typically
overlooked factors such as the process of abiogenesis, different evolutionary timescales and
potential self-annihilation are incorporated to explore the growth propensity of ETI. We examine
three major parameters: 1) the likelihood rate of abiogenesis (λA); 2) evolutionary timescales (Tevo);
and 3) probability of self-annihilation of complex life (Pann). We found Pann to be the most
influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life. Our model
simulation also identified a peak location for ETI at an annular region approximately 4 kpc from
the Galactic center around 8 billion years (Gyrs), with complex life decreasing temporally and
spatially from the peak point, asserting a high likelihood of intelligent life in the galactic inner
disk. The simulated age distributions also suggest that most of the intelligent life in our galaxy are
young, thus making observation or detection difficult.
<sigh>. Why? I sympathize with the idea of having fun with math, but the Drake equation is simple-minded algebra, not particularly interesting, and isn’t going to produce testable results.The authors seem to have confused their model with reality. This makes no sense:
We also concluded that at the current time of the study, most intelligent life in the Galaxy is
younger than 0.5 Gyr, with values of probability parameter for self-annihilation between 0 – 0.01;
with a relatively higher value of the annihilation parameter (≥ 0.1), most intelligent life is younger
than 0.01 Gyr. As we cannot assume a low probability of annihilation, it is possible that intelligent
life elsewhere in the Galaxy is still too young to be observed by us. Therefore, our findings can
imply that intelligent life may be common in the Galaxy but is still young, supporting the optimistic
aspect for the practice of SETI. Our results also suggest that our location on Earth is not within the
region where most intelligent life is settled, and SETI practices need to be closer to the inner
Galaxy, preferably at the annulus 4 kpc from the Galactic Center.
But…but…they’re talking about the parameters of their simulation! Their “probability parameter for self-annihilation” is something they set. All of the numbers they plug in are guesstimates, with varying degrees of reasonable justification. Of course they make an optimistic conclusion about SETI! But why should anyone accept their conclusions about an appropriate region for searching for intelligent life? Fudge their parameters a little more and you could shift the zone of likelihood where ever you want. They’ve added nothing to our understanding of the universe, unless you think that multiplying a bunch of numbers by a different bunch of numbers giving you a new result is earthshaking.
I really have to ask…why don’t reviewers simply stamp papers that are all about manipulating the Drake equation with a big red REJECT label? It would save them time and reduce the clutter in the scientific literature. Is there any value in YAWOD (Yet Another Wank Over Drake)? Who finds these informative?